ELIZABETHTOWN — Cody Cutting was found not guilty of second-degree murder Tuesday after a seven-day trial.
The jury convicted the Moriah man on two lesser charges of second-degree manslaughter, a felony, and second-degree menacing, a misdemeanor, in the shooting death of Derek "Boomer" Sprague.
In light of the conviction, Essex County Court Judge Richard Meyer sent Cutting back to Essex County Jail on $500,000 bail.
He had been free on $100,000 bond since the second day of his trial.
Before that, Cutting had been jailed on $1 million bail or $2 million secured bond since he was arrested April 22, the day of the shooting that took place in the parking lot of the Eagles Aerie 4410, where he and Sprague were both members.
Cutting, 31, showed no emotion when the foreperson read the verdict on Tuesday evening. As he was being cuffed, he turned and said "thank you" to one or more members of his family in the gallery.
He faces five to 15 years in prison.
The jury deliberated for almost three hours before handing down the verdict shortly before 6 p.m.
Earlier in the trial, Aaron "Rocket" Tur of Moriah, who witnessed the shooting in the parking lot, told the jury that an argument over foul language led to the incident.
He said Cutting invited Sprague to “come outside” after a brief physical altercation inside the social club.
Surveillance footage from inside the club, played several times in court throughout the trial, showed that altercation in which Sprague grabbed him by the back of his sweatshirt and yanked him backwards off his bar stool, knocking him flat on his back.
Sprague then kneeled on him for several seconds before Tur pulled Sprague up off the floor
Cutting was first out the door, followed closely by Sprague and then Tur.
By the time he got outside, Cutting had opened the driver’s-side door of his pickup truck and was “fishing around for something” inside, he told the jury.
Sprague was about 10 feet away from Cutting at that time and not in a position to harm him, Tur said.
That's when Cutting spun counterclockwise and pointed a handgun at Sprague’s head, he said.
Sprague charged him anyway, Tur said, striking him several times before the gun was fired.
Sprague was shot in the neck, and the bullet exited through the back of his head.
Warren County District Attorney Jason Carusone served as special prosecutor in the trial because Sprague was the brother of Essex County District Attorney Kristy Sprague.
Albany-based attorney Kevin O’Brien defended Cutting.
He's due back in court for sentencing at 3 p.m. Feb. 4.
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